SC commission to rule on Winthrop acting president salary

07/08/2014 9:48 PM

07/08/2014 9:49 PM

State officials will decide Wednesday whether Winthrop University’s chief academic officer can retain her current salary while temporarily serving as the school’s acting president.

Winthrop trustees appointed Debra Boyd – current provost and vice president for academic affairs – to acting president, beginning June 13.

The board’s unanimous decision to select Boyd came after trustees suspended former Winthrop President Jamie Comstock Williamson. Two weeks later, the board fired Williamson. She spent less than one year in office.

Boyd, who is in her 30th year at Winthrop, makes $162,537 annually as provost. On Wednesday, the S.C. Agency Head Salary Commission will decide whether she can keep that salary even though it exceeds the base pay level set by state officials for Winthrop’s president.

Public institutions in South Carolina, such as Winthrop, must have permission from the commission before setting a salary above the base pay level for an employee filling the role of “agency head.” University presidents are considered the agency head of public schools in the state.

College employees are classified by position or “band,” which determines the minimum and maximum salary allowed for each position. The commission sets the pay range for each classification.

Winthrop isn’t requesting a raise for Boyd to serve as acting president, university officials said Tuesday. But the school needs the state’s permission for Boyd to keep her current salary.

If the commission does not approve Boyd’s current salary, the panel could limit Boyd’s pay as acting president to $156,504 annually – the base pay level for Winthrop’s agency head and a $6,000 pay cut from her provost salary.

At $162,537 annually, Boyd’s pay as acting president is $7,433 less than the state salary Williamson was paid before being fired on June 26. Williamson’s annual compensation was nearly $300,000 which included a salary supplement from the university’s foundation.

As acting president, Boyd has said she’ll rely on a team effort on campus to keep Winthrop moving forward. Last week, she posted a letter addressed to Winthrop “family and friends” on the school's website seeking to reassure the community that “the mission-critical work of our university continues.”

In naming Boyd to lead Winthrop, trustees issued a statement last month saying they have the “utmost confidence” in her leadership and the efforts of other senior officials on campus.

Boyd started her career at Winthrop as an English professor and later became chair of the English department. She went on to serve as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and dean of the faculty.

She holds three degrees in English – a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian State University. Boyd also earned a degree in mathematics from Appalachian State.

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